By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
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I have talked at length about the Yankees precarious position of defining whether or not they are contenders or not, and whether they should seek selling off some assets, to fall below the $189 MIL Luxury Tax Threshold – or if the franchise should run at a postseason berth in Derek Jeter‘s last season.
Seeing that Masahiro Tanaka will be out for at least 6 weeks with a partially torn UCL on his pitching arm, and possibly be out with Tommy John Surgery afterwards, this season outlook is becoming bleak.
Even with the Japanese superstar throwing at a premium level, the club would have a longshot chance to make the playoffs – and do some damage.
By the numbers, you would think they may have a shot. Even with a 46 – 46 record, they are just 5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles, and are 3.5 Games Behind the Mariners for the last WildCard Spot.
The only survivor of the club’s rotation is Hiroki Kuroda, and the team had to talk him out of retirement in 2014, following a brutal last 6 weeks of pitching in the 2013 campaign.
The club also has already DFA’d Alfonso Soriano for bad play.
Ichiro Suzuki, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner and Brian Roberts have played about as well as you could as experts might have predicted, with Jacoby Ellsbury just falling out of the realm of where he should be.
But honestly, with the Starters all being out, there is not much optimism for a deep playoff run, even if they were to somehow squeeze into the playoffs.
Trading for Jeff Francis yesterday los isn’t going to cut it, but helps a little for depth.
There is no way the club is catching Los Angeles for the 1st Wild Card Slot, so that would leave the 2nd spot up for grabs.
Seattle, Toronto, Cleveland, New York, Kansas City, with maybe the White Sox, or the Rays/Red Sox may come back into the picture, will be fighting for the last spot.
With the offense struggling as it is, with the starters now going down, it simply doesn’t look realistic for the ‘Bronx Bombers’ to do it this year.
So what do they do?
Right now, the payroll is hovering around the $200 MIL mark for AAV listed. The team is paying Brandon McCarthy only about $3 MIL of his 2014 salary.
I would see what happens in Baltimore first this weekend. If the club can win the series (by winning the next 2), than maybe you could prolong the talk about trading veterans for a week or so.
The only reason why I would entertain those thoughts – are because the Yanks will be hitting the break having tackled 53 road games, as opposed to just 41 games at Yankee Stadium.
The club could knock down their division deficit to 3 with a sweep of the last two games.
Anything less than that will result in a 5 game deficit or higher (7 with a sweep), considering they are playing the O’s in a 3 game set at Camden Yards Friday through Sunday.
If the squad can’t win this series it is definitely time to start dealing.
The club must find a way to clear about $10 MIL off of the payroll for the last 2 months plus of the year, to go under $189 MIL.
Given if the club could trade these players away for the last third of the year, the easiest way to accomplish this mark, would be to trade Hiroki Kuroda ($5.3) MIL, David Robertson ($1.7 MIL), Ichiro Suzuki ($2.1 MIL), Brian Roberts (700 K) + Kelly Johnson ($1 MIL) all by the 31st of July.
Those totals could save on the AAV a little more if they are dealt even before that.
You could actually also trade McCarthy yet again ($3 MIL) and finalize a way to get under the cap.)
The team is at a 50% Luxury Tax penalty for every dollar spent over the $189 MIL, so if they were to add payroll via trades right now, essentially you would add 50% more to every guy you brought into the fold
In 2015, the Yankees will have suspended PED user Alex Rodriguez back on the team’s budget ($27 MIL AAV), and the squad is already at $161 MIL, and that is despite having many of the veterans leaving the club after this year.
Derek Jeter is retiring, David Robertson is without a deal past 2014, Hiroki Kuroda’s contract is also up.
This means if Masahiro Tanaka has to go under the knife, all 5 starters at the beginning of the year will be in question to start the 2015 season.
You can’t count on Michael Pineda, with only a handful of starts in his Yankees regime. Sabathia may have a tough time ever pitching again.
So here in lies another dilemma for the organization.
This team needs to spend money in this offseason to bolster the chances for the team going forward.
The bottom line is that New York should want to fall underneath the Luxury Tax Threshold in either 2014 or 2015 to reset their penalty on team salary.
Once they do comply with the rules for one year, the 1st year penalty now will reset to a 17.5% penalty on their 1st season going over the limit again.
That is a 32.5% savings on what the club would spend this year for every dollar spent past $189 MIL.
If the brass does this move, they could run rampant on the Free Agency Market yet again in the fall once the 2014 World Series is over..
The likes of Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, Ian Kennedy, Justin Masterson, Asdrubal Cabrera, Pablo Sandoval could all be brought in, and all the better with a cascading price of draft picks downward for compensation ( from 1st RD to 6th RD).
If the team stays at status quo, or adds to the payroll, the will remain in the 50% bracket, and risk paying more money for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Again with the pitching status of the staff looking so bleak for next campaign, they will easily blow the $189 MIL mark out of the water.
Besides, there is not many game changers for the club to land, that would put the team up the totem poles of favorites.
Not only that, the Yanks do have a decent Minor League System, but they hardly could win a bargaining battle with many other teams competing for the so called ‘pivotal guys’ left on the trade table.
There would be several teams vying for the veterans the team has. Kuroda would be a nice fit in Los Angeles, and maybe New York could receive a 4th OF in return like Scott Van Slyke for his services.
The Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners and several other clubs could use an extra OF like Suzuki.
Could you imagine the haul for a David Robertson in this market, with Tigers, Giants or Dodgers trade as clubs that need a late inning arm to add to the arsenal?
Kelly Johnson or Brian Roberts would help shore up the Giants/A’s at 2B – or especially the Reds – who just lost Brandon Phillips – who down with a thumb injury and is out 8- 12 weeks.
Brandon McCarthy may help all of the playoff teams that are left on the table except for the Tigers, Dodgers, A’s, Giants and Nationals.
You best believe the Angels, Mariners, Braves, Pirates or Cardinals with their recent health would be interested in acquiring the RHP.
Yes, the Pinstripers might have a tough 2nd half negotiation enough warm bodies to fill departing guys, but you could still start with Chase Whitley, David Phelps, and of course you may add young starters back in the deal that are on Entry Level Contracts.
I wouldn’t worry constructing a Bullpen for 2015 either, as the ability to spend money once the year ends, will net you several Free Agent opportunities like Huston Street, Luke Gregerson just to name a few.
Whatever the scenario, it will not be pretty. But it may take 2 months of hell to kickstart 3 or 4 years of good squads going forward.
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